The Segunda Marquetalia is gaining momentum.
In the last two weeks, the FARC-EP structure around Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich came a step closer to its goals of reunifying Colombian insurgency groups. In a recently published communique, the guerilla made clear once again what they stand for: “Unity, unity, unity, that is our motto! United we will be strong and we will deserve respect; divided and isolated, we will perish”.
After the peace deal, the FARC-EP divided into three significant factions: the Segunda Marquetalia, which has returned to armed struggle, the FARC-EP under Gentil Duarte, which never gave up its weapons, and the parliamentary FARC, now known as “Comunes”, which is still holding onto the peace process.
The Segunda Marquetalia has adopted a policy of achieving peace between armed FARC factions. Still, for now, there is a bloody power struggle between the two major armed groups. Segunda Marquetalia’s rivals are hostile toward them for giving up their weapons and “ruining the FARC“. The FARC under Gentil Duarte is considered militarily powerful, with a large amount of territory under their control and access to illegal business. The FARC-EP Segunda Marquetalia is considered politically steadfast with a great deal of know-how, having several former key commanders in their ranks. Their military and territorial strength were previously estimated to be low, but they have achieved some significant accomplishments recently.
500 militants of the CDF (EB) join the ranks of the Segunda Marquetalia.
The illegal and armed group called “Comandos de Frontera – Ejercito Bolivariano” (Border Command – Bolivarian Army) used to fight for territorial control in the south of Colombia in Putumayo. It was classified as a less politicized paramilitary group. However, 500 of their militants are fighting now under the banner of the communist Segunda Marquetalia. The FARC-EP commander Oscar Montero is responsible for reconstructing the southern bloc and will most likely be in charge of unifying the two groups. On March 15, 2021, he announced the creation of a “union of political and military efforts and goals” between the two groups in a public statement. The CDF (EB) also published a report in which they make clear:
“We promise to fight relentlessly against the corrupt who celebrate with contracts and steal public money. (…) All united against corruption and those departmental governments that do not give a shit for the people.”
Segunda Marquetalia expands into northern Colombia: the revival of the Caribbean guerilla bloc.
On March 8th, Jesús Santrich announced the revival of the bloc Martín Caballero and the war fronts 19, 59 and 41 as well as the Danilo García command and the Bertulfo Álvarez commission. From now on, they will fight under the banner of the Segunda Marquetalia. The aforementioned guerilla bloc operates on the Caribbean coast and in Magdalena Medio. Units are immediately beginning to be deployed throughout the Colombian-Caribbean region.
Santrich “emphasized the call for the rapprochement and unity of all FARC-EP structures, whether or not they are members of the Second Marquetalia, as well as the unity of the Colombian insurgents”. He also gave a shout-out to the ELN guerilla, which is an important ally.
The FARC-EP Caribbean bloc was once a medium-sized structure but was also incredibly relevant. Iván Marquez and Santrich used to lead the northern bloc back when the FARC-EP was at its peak before the peace deal. Both will likely recruit members in these areas, in part because of their history with the guerrilla movement there. They know the territory, people and the rules for organizing in the region by heart. The local mountains witnessed some of the bloodiest fighting in the history of the FARC. The guerilla expanded there in the early 1990s while defending its territories against paramilitary and state forces. The Segunda Marquetalia will also have to assert itself against the local structure of the AGC, the most prominent right-wing paramilitary organization in the region, which is known for having ties to the Colombian Armed Forces. The AGC has been in the Montes de María, a strategic corridor, since February 2020, which they use to traffic drugs.
Despite all efforts, the fratricidal war continues.
In the Sumapaz region, a region near Bogotá, there have recently been fights between the FARC-EP Second Marquetalia and the FARC-EP structures under the command of Gentil Duarte. So far, three people have been murdered in these skirmishes. Both organizations are trying to expand into the Sumapaz region and are fighting for territorial control.
Any effort to seek unity with the FARC under Duarte seems distant right now. The strategy of the Segunda Marquetalia appears to be the following. So far, their commanders have not succeeded in uniting with the structures of their rival FARC-EP faction headed by Gentil Duarte. However, Segunda Marquetalia has succeeded in uniting a significant number of those at war with the Gentil Duarte structure under their own banner. Simultaneously, their commanders, Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich continue to struggle for the unity of all FARC-EP fronts.
K. Nazari is a contributor at Frontlineonline. More of their work can be found at frontlineonline.substack.com.